Recently a controversy broke out when Archbishop Thomas Macwan appealed people to ‘Save India from Nationalist forces’. This came right before the crucial Gujarat Assembly Elections that has been a whirlwind so far.
Savio Rodrigues was a senior Congress leader from Goa. He resigned after the Goa election debauchery. He blamed the party of mistreatment and Digvijay Singh of dooming the party in Goa.
Savio, known to be extremely forthcoming with his views, took a strong exception to Archbishop Thomas Macwan’s appeal to ‘save India from Nationalist forces’. He first took to twitter to express his disdain.
I am a XTian. I don’t represent the community but I am appalled at the stand of the Archbishop. Never have I witnessed in last three years atrocities to me or my family from exercising the duties & choices of our faith. Such messages are aimed to stir communal divide. https://t.co/NTTc96k6tY
— Savio Rodrigues 🇮🇳 (@PrinceArihan) November 23, 2017
He then took to Goa Chronicle, a publication he owns, to pen a stinging open letter addressed to the Archbishop.
His letter has been reproduced here in totality. He writes :
Let me at the onset of this letter turn to the book – The Holy Bible – that has inspired me for most of my life and has given me the Wisdom to discern the truth from the fabricated lie.
1 John 4:7 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God”
I was much disturbed by your letter addressed to the Eminences, Graces and Lordships on 21/11/2017. So I decided to as a fellow Christian put forth my views.
I do not belong to any political party. My views are personal and I pray you take it in the spirit of truth.
For better understanding, I am going to express my viewpoint on the statements that left me confused and disturbed.
‘The secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake’
Democracy of any country and at any point of time is always at stake. It is not a new phenomenon to India.
I am trying to understand your idea of democracy.
In 2014, the people of India gave a thumping majority to Narendra Modi – led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) political outfit through a democratic process of elections. In the last three years the government has taken tough decisions such as demonetisation and implementation of GST. It faced considerable criticism for the decisions but if you do a thorough analysis of just these two decisions, you will see that the decisions could be debatable but the support Modi got from the people of India across states and across religious boundaries will outnumber the critics. So is that the failure of the democratic fabric of the country.
I love this word ‘Secular’ – in context of our Nation it is most misused and misunderstood word. If you ask a common man to define secular, you will get a prompt answer, ‘As a Nation we respect and accept all religions’. That however is not what the true definition of ‘secular’ but the propaganda definition. To be a secular Nation is to not accept religion in affairs of governance – it is as simple as that. Keep religion out of governance. But unfortunately before Independence and after Independence religion has been the one thorn that pierces into the very heart of our country and the resultant impact is on the people. This is the bane of politics in India and you too Archbishop Macwan is using religion to spread your views because of a certain dislike towards a political party and its leader. There is then no difference between you and those evildoers that forced people over the years to hate on the basis of religion.
‘Not a single day goes by without attack on Churches, Church personnel, faithful and institutions’
I live in Goa. The Christian population has dwindled over the years since many have decided to follow their Portuguese roots. Yet we are roughly around 27 per cent with the Hindu population being around 65 per cent. The BJP government has been here for 5yrs in the state and now three-years at the Centre.
Whenever I go to Church, I see the Churches filled with the faithful praying without fear or restriction; every village has the traditional Mother Mary novenas in different houses without fear or restrictions. Christmas and Easter are celebrated in pomp and fanfare. St Francis Xavier is revered and his feast is celebrated by Christians, Hindus and Muslims. I have not seen any Christian been attacked or stopped during his religious duties.
I am finding it hard to understand this statement of attack on the Church and Christians that you elucidated. I have travelled extensively across the country – Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Jaipur, Raipur, Ahmedabad – I have never been attacked for being a Christian or going to Church.
I am not saying that there might not be stray incidents of over zealots and we have them across all religions but at a ground level as a common Christian citizen where am I or my family attacked.
In fact if you do comparative analysis of deaths since the BJP government at the Centre, it would be the Hindus that have been killed more and not the minorities as it is portrayed out to be. Strangely this government has done nothing to curb the killings of the Hindus in states like Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
So why then is the Church spreading this narrative of ‘nationalist forces’ out to divide and harm the minorities, OBCs etc?
Let me ask you very openly just because a few priests have been guilty of sexually abusing children, should we paint all Christian priests as pedophiles. In the same logic just because some over zealots may have attacked some Pastors on allegations of conversions, which have no relation to the government directly or indirectly, should we blame the government? If so, then by that same logic we should blame you for all the pedophile acts of priests in Gujarat or Pope Francis for the pedophile acts of priests across the world? But I am sure you will not agree to this logic and even term me as a blasphemer. But the logic is irrefutable.
‘Nationalist forces are on the verge of talking over the country’
Here Archbishop Macwan you get it completely wrong and it almost seems you are insinuating that citizens must not be nationalists.
By definition ‘A Nationalist’ is a person who wants their country to be politically independent. Is that so wrong?
Are you saying that we should continue to be slaves under the Portuguese like in Goa and British like in most parts of the country? Are you saying that the Independence we got from colonial powers was wrong and we should have continued to be slaves? Or are you (God forbid) saying that Anti-National should take over the country?
I am a Christian and a proud Nationalist. This is my Bharat Mata and I am her son. Is that something I should be ashamed off?
All the great leaders in the Church in their planned attack on the Modi government will fail. By edging people to vote on the basis of political biases which are really religious biases; you are polarizing the voters. In a polarized scenario, the majority always wins and in fact the minority will also support the majority if there is progress, peace and economic welfare. That is what Modi is doing. He is not bringing people together under a religious banner. If he did that he would fail. He is bringing people together under the banner of a New India. The people of India are starting to think as Indians and not majority and minority.
There is no denial that there is an attempt to lay emphasis in restoring some of our Hindu culture, sciences and art that have been buried under mounds of invaders own interpretation of history. There is nothing wrong in that. If we celebrate Yoga Day in India and globally, we should be proud of it. Our roots are Vedic, irrespective what our religion today might be.
Your letter reeks of a communal stink. You are sowing the seeds of doubt and hatred in the minds of gullible Christians. You will fail because this not the way of God but the way of the world you are acting on.
Luke 6:31 states “Do to others as you would have them do to you”
The beauty of the teaching of Jesus is that he urges his followers to be peacemakers. The beatitudes states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God”
All my life I have strived to be a peacemaker. Even as I write to you, I know you might not agree with me and many Christians will be upset with me. But the truth is in a world where religion has become the bane of inconceivable violence can we not grow beyond religion at least for our Nation and think as Indians and be proud of India.
If the Narendra Modi government is wrong, it will be judged by its actions of governance. If BJP walks the path of religious bigotry, people of the country will reject Modi.
This is New India. An India of hope and promise for our children built on strong nationalism and patriotism for our Motherland.
(The letter has been reproduced with due permission from Mr. Savio Rodrigues)
While the entire opposition is trying to create minority hysteria, Mr. Rodrigues’ letter shines as a beacon of all the values we hold dear as a Nation. What remains to be seen is whether Archbishop Macwan pays heed to Mr. Rodrigues’ open letter.